Elaine Stritch, whose husky voice and brassy demeanour dominated stages from New York's Broadway to London's West End in a career of more than 60 years, died at age 89 on Thursday, her spokesman said.
Stritch, who also had Emmy-winning roles on the television shows 30 Rock and Law & Order, died in Birmingham, Mich., a suburb of her native Detroit, from natural causes. She had suffered from diabetes for several years and had been in declining health.
Stritch worked with some of the stage's greatest composers - from Noel Coward, who called her Stritchie, to Stephen Sondheim, who wrote what became her signature song, the show-stopping The Ladies Who Lunch, from the 1970 musical Company.
Her voice did not have great range but she brought emotion and impeccable timing to anything she sang.
Stritch was so closely identified with Broadway and New York that the city's landmark conservancy group declared her a living landmark in 2003. In 2013, Stritch said she no longer had the energy required to live in New York and returned to her native Michigan.
Life in the Detroit suburbs proved to be a tough transition, however, and two months after moving she told Vanity Fair magazine, "I don't have a damn thing to do except take walks in Birmingham, Michigan, and I've done that."
Stritch first went to New York from Detroit in 1944 at age 17 to attend finishing school. She became caught up in the stage world and studied at Stella Adler's prestigious acting school, where Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau were classmates.